Episode 13: Grace Aspect of Living With and Healing from Trauma Healing Our Brokenness Podcast Seri...
00:00 / 00:15:34
Our last podcast, Lost in the Woods of Trauma, dealt with the process of going from having the trauma identity to reign, to have our identity in Christ to take over. This week’s episode: Grace Aspect of Living With and Healing from Trauma, shares about the embarrassing moments that we all have when we live with and heal from trauma on a daily basis, even when we have come a long way with our healing. It also handles how to see these moments as God sees them. Click to listen!
Traumatic Childhood Events
My Traumatic Childhood Event
My Eye Doctor Visit
Grace Aspect: My Resolve
Grace Aspect: Bible Verses for Meditation
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet was without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy, and find grace to help us in our time of need.
In our Living With and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis Series, I dissect issues and symptoms of PTSD/trauma. This is in hopes of letting people know that they are not alone, as well as giving people the freedom to comment, and talk about how PTSD/trauma has affected their lives in these areas. The last post in the Living With and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis Series was one dealing with the Holiday Aspect of trauma. You can find that post here. Today’s post will focus on the Digestion Aspect.
One surprising revelation for me was realizing that PTSD/trauma actually affects your digestion. I stumbled upon this realization in June of 2014, a couple of months after getting divorced. There are three things that I noticed when it comes to trauma and digestion:
Trauma and grief will come out in the form of regurgitation.
I am not trying to sound gross here, so please bear with me. Due to complications with my ex-husband’s health, as well as the fact that I had stuffed my emotions for so long, my grief was delayed. Grieving my divorce, and all the events surrounding it, were delayed. Alleviating some of the symptoms that I was experiencing seemed downright frightening because of stuffing for so long.
This caused me to be in a vicious cycle of stuffing and feeling like my face and chest was going to explode, with very little relief. Trauma is in the tissues, and so I discovered, along with reading information on my own, that movement, grief, and massaging helped to release it. The problem came into play when I finally felt like I could release the trauma. However, the underlying feeling was that if I started crying, there would be no bottoming out. Subconsciously, I knew it was going to be a bad release.
Instead of my system waiting any longer, it released the trauma and grief in the form of regurgitation. Initially, I thought that it was just that maybe something upset my stomach. However, after four rounds of this, and feeling grief in between each round, I knew that wasn’t the case at all. It didn’t take long to put two and two together.
I felt very vulnerable, and my son kept asking me, “What did you eat?” I told him that it had nothing to do with the food. It was physiological.
Trauma will cause your system to get confused about hunger and fullness.
Another weird discovery that I made is that every now and then, stored trauma and unreleased grief will make your system confused as far as satiety is concerned. There are times when I have felt like I could keep eating forever. Then, there are other times that I feel hungry, and then attempt to eat, but will all of a sudden feel full.
Lastly, there are times when I can literally feel my emotions trapped in my midsection, causing my body to try to figure out whether it is satisfied, or it needs more food. It is the weirdest thing. It doesn’t happen as much anymore. However, when it happens, it can be very frustrating.
When doing research, one of the explanations that I found is that because of PTSD/trauma, at times, the blood that should flow into the stomach, moves away from it, going to other areas like the arms.
Trauma will cause you to become hypersensitive to certain foods, causing severe panic attacks when consumed in normal portions.
The last issue that I would like to discuss is how trauma causes hypersensitivity to foods. These foods vary from person to person. For me, it was sugar. I first discovered this when I decided to eat a glazed donut in 2015.
Within five minutes, a severe panic attack came on, I felt like I was going to hit the roof. The only thing that would help my system to calm down was drinking an excess amount of water, and then deep breathing, and a lot of prayer. Taking multivitamins has helped , but it is still not the same.
My system has improved a little. However, it can’t handle what it once was able to. Sometimes, I get frustrated with this fact. It is what it is. I have learned to accept the fact that a few moments of pleasure for an hour or more of panic just isn’t worth it.
How has PTSD/trauma affected your digestion? What are some of the ways that you use to cope with it?
The last poem that I wrote was entitled, “Gratitude, Gratitude”, and it can be found here. Today’s poem takes you on a winding adventure of why I have chosen to write. Please feel free to send in your comments below on why it is that you have chosen the path of writing.
Why I Write
I write from the heart.
No, it’s not just a part.
It’s the pain and the struggles.
It’s the drama and the tuggles.
The laughter and the cries.
The births and the byes.
The ins and the outs.
The moments filled with doubt.
The pushing past surviving.
The greeting of the thriving.
The heartaches and the pain.
The neverending rain.
The beauty and the ashes.
The life that’s filled with dashes.
Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.
Episode 12: Lost in the Woods of Trauma Healing Our Brokenness Podcast Seri...
00:00 / 00:21:08
Have you ever lost your kid? That’s the scariest thing in the world? What about you? Have you ever been lost yourself? I mean really lost!!! Think about how you felt. Today, on Healing Our Brokenness, we are going to discuss being lost in the woods. Lost in the woods is a term that I give for “Identity Issues of Trauma.” I described this issue in the poem that I wrote that is called, “Stolen Identity”. You can find that poem here.
Lost in the Woods of Trauma Outline
Discussion of Being Lost
What Led to My Discovery of Being Lost in the Woods
One of the worst things to happen is to be a victim of stolen identity. Sometimes it can take a couple of years to recover all the information that has been lost. When you are Living With and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis, you also experience a sense of stolen identity. This poem has been written with the hopes that you can relate and find comfort in Our Creator, who gives the final stamp of approval.
From trauma’s pieces.
Like a little child.
Lost in the woods.
Look at all the roles.
And then all the should’s.
Where am I?
Who am I?
How do I get back?
Follow the cross.
Where it gives no slack.
You are in the court building.
Where the Judge sits on high.
Where his throne reaches ceiling.
And then out through the sky.
“You have been adopted.
You know who you are.
Memories were so blocked.
Had you traveling way too far.
Ground yourself in me.
Where you’ll find your name.
You’ve already been set free.
You will never be the same.”
Bible Verses to Meditate On:
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
Background on the Flashback/Images/Nightmare Aspect
A week ago, I discussed The “Inability to Focus” Aspect: Living With and Healing From Trauma on a Daily Basis. That discussion can be found here. Today, I will be discussing The Flashback/Images/Nightmare Aspect: Living with and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis.
This discussion has three parts to it. When I compare myself to others whom I have talked to, they present themselves differently, and so I deemed it necessary to explain them separately. As far as the nightmare aspect is concerned, my experience has been that there has been very few trauma nightmares. When the nightmares do occur, they are usually because I have fallen asleep with the television on, and a horror movie happened to come on, and that movie turned the dream into a trauma nightmare.
Also, at our last residence, because of the vaulted ceilings, you could hear everything that was going on no matter what room you were in. It gave the impression that we were in closer proximity than we really were. During this time, the sleep deprived trauma symptom was at its peak. I would either wake up every 45 minutes to an hour, or fall asleep at 3 am, If my son was playing a war game on his Xbox, then that would also set me off into a trauma nightmare.
Because of the way that my brain is wired, whenever I go to sleep, I have to be careful of what is playing in the background because it will become part of my dream. The game would cause me to dream of something violent, wake up with trauma-induced fear, my body stiff as a board, clenched teeth, and unfortunately my mouth filled with blood from biting my gums.
It would normally take a long time to go back to sleep after this. I would end up telling my son to turn the game volume down. The very few times that this happened would usually involve me praying desperately for God to take away the trauma fear, and to give me the sweet sleep that he promised us in Proverbs 3.
What I do have a lot of is what I call trauma dreams. What I noticed is that when I am unable to process the trauma, i.e. grieve it, then the trauma will show up in my dreams where I am able to process it. Usually what happens is that I will wake up with heavy grief, remembering the dream, and then grieving some more.
The weird thing about what I call trauma dreams is that there isn’t always one theme that the dream is about. Sometimes there are five different things that I need to process subconsciously, and the dream will mix all these different things together.
Trauma flashbacks usually occur through triggers. These triggers can be weather related, smells, sights, sounds, tastes, and even touch. Basically, triggers can involve any of the five senses. The triggers aspect is discussed in more detail here.
About a year ago, I made some bean and cheese quesadillas that were pretty good. At least, I thought they were. However, my kids were only able to take a few bites. The quesadillas triggered memories of an earlier time.
When I was working at a toxic company for six months, I overheard the boss mention one word. That word sent me into a tailspin of flashbacks in regards to an extremely traumatic situation that happened with my ex-husband. This situation of bullying was going on while my grandmother was in the hospital dying. Basically, you never know what will trigger flashbacks.
As the spring and winter approaches, these also bring the flashbacks on. This is because my eyes are very sensitive to transitions in the brightness and darkness outside. I go into this blackout aspect more deeply here.
I am not sure of how many people deal with this aspect. Where most people have violent nightmares, my trauma comes forth as violent images in front of my face. What I have noticed is that these images will also emerge if my brain is having problems processing what it is seeing.
It can be as small as a simple fight or argument. Sometimes I am able to tolerate it. However, if the movie shows a lot of it, then I will see images. A few months ago, I was watching a Netflix movie that reminded me of my ethnicity, and growing up in the black church and community.
The content started becoming questionable, and I knew the Holy Spirit was trying to signal to me that it probably wasn’t a good idea to continue. My confirmation was when a violent fight broke out between a man and a woman, and then the trauma images came forth. The next thing that I knew, I said, “Okay. We’re done. Thank you Lord for confirmation.”
If there was anything in this discussion that resonated with you, feel free to drop me a line below.
The last six months have been filled with trials, unexpected trauma, and a whole lot of gratitude. This gratitude involves the realization that I have life, strength, and decent health. It makes me think of all the things that God made possible that I thought that I may never do again. It is also gratefulness for a new calling in life. I realize that nothing can be taken for granted.
Background on Gratitude Check
After just coming out of a trial on Wednesday of last week, I was looking forward to taking it easy on the weekend. So I thought. I had just attended a meeting at church for the Sunday School volunteers. My daughter and I were headed home.
We made a complete stop at the intersection around the corner from our house, waiting for eastbound traffic to clear so that we could make a left turn. While we were sitting there, I had the words “crash and rental car” to come into my mind. I tried pushing those thoughts out of my head. I began to make a plan for what I would do when I got home: rake the leaves, go for a walk, write out my podcast speech, etc. The next thing that I knew, we were hit. It kind of happened in slow motion.
After about an hour and fifteen minutes of pictures and paperwork, we were able to go home. To be honest, I had to stop and ask God “Why?” I had just recovered from last week’s drama, only to end up with more trauma from the accident. As I sat there, at my kitchen table, I acknowledged that I was mad. There was no point in pretending. Stuffing leads to more trauma, so I wasn’t going down that aisle. I acknowledged that I didn’t feel like making the calls to the insurance company. Then, I had to acknowledge the trauma from the accident that was starting to kick in.
It took me two more hours before I could call and report the accident. What was my gratitude check for Saturday?
God is good.
The car was still drive-able.
We didn’t suffer any major injuries.(My daughter is sore from the accident).
God had a praise song in my head while we waited for all the pictures and paperwork to be done.
The car wasn’t going any faster than it was.
We found out that we were missing some major coverage on our car insurance.
The other driver had insurance.
This accident reminded me of God’s answer to our thoughts and our plans:
8“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
For about three months now, I have featured a series entitled, ” Living With and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis. Last week, I discussed the “Blackout Aspect”. That discussion can be found here. Today’s discussion in the series ” Living With and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis”, will center in on The “Inability to Focus” Aspect.
When we focus, we are able to use all of our attention in order to get a task done. Unfortunately, with PTSD/trauma, there are times when the inability to focus can literally get the best of you. There are several times that I have noticed this happening to myself. These are the triggering situations when the inability to focus happens the most:
obtrusive thoughts are coming through
you are in shock/denial about the truth/reality of a situation
when you haven’t had enough sleep
Obtrusive thoughts that come through are the thoughts that are for the most part not your own. These thoughts are usually part of the inner critic voice inside of you from the person who abused or criticized you, or caused some type of pain or rejection. When these thoughts are racing through, it is hard to focus on anything else because the thoughts are trying to literally take over your whole brain process. I start off by praying and asking God to “take my thoughts captive”. If the obtrusive thoughts are mild, this does the trick. However, to keep it real, sometimes the thoughts are so out of control, that I am praying to God all day long about the same thing to the point of exhaustion.
Shock / Denial
When I am in shock/denial about some revelation that God has brought forth, I immediately start having problems focusing. This happened about three weeks ago when a personal situation with someone blew wide open. During this time, I ended up redirecting myself several times over to the truth, which is good. However, what I notice is that the truth is such a shock at this point, that the inability to focus increases instead of decreases from the truth.
This is because the revelation of the truth started the cycle in the first place, if that makes sense. The only thing that helps to ease this up is when our brains know that it is safe to grieve. Grieving breaks through the inability to focus aspect little by little when it comes to shock/denial. In this sense, I think of it as being a protection from further emotional and mental damage. This particular case from shock/denial is a form of dissociation as well.
Lack of Sleep
Lastly, when it comes to trauma, we have to have enough sleep. This can’t be stressed enough. When this doesn’t happen, it increases the inability to focus. In PTSD/trauma victims, this is exaggerated more than usual cases. The situation can get so bad that you exhibit ADHD-like symptoms that are trauma-induced. You have difficulty putting thoughts and sentences together, and you feel like your words are far apart.
My Experience with Lack of Sleep
One time about eight months ago this happened. It was extremely scary. I had been having problems sleeping for about a week do to a trial that I was dealing with, and the next thing that I knew, I realized that I was having problems gathering thoughts and putting sentences together. I prayed and asked God to help me sleep, and to restore my mind. And he didn’t fail to answer.
Even if this is not your area of struggle with PTSD/trauma, I am quite sure that there are other that you have that may be just as challenging. Feel free to comment below on how the inability to focus aspect has challenged you.
A couple of weeks ago, we focused on the shame aspect of trauma. You can find that discussion: “The Shame Aspect: Living With and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis” here. Today, we will discuss the blackout aspect of trauma.
What is the blackout aspect of trauma? The blackout aspect of trauma consists of several different things. First of all, not everyone, but for some people living with PTSD/trauma, there is something that happens with your body’s sense of being able to handle the transition between light and dark if that makes sense. For myself, it was so significant that at first, I had to have a lot of lights on in the house. If I didn’t, I would feel like the darkness was closing in on me.
Old Experience with Blackout
When my kids and I were homeless, and waiting for God to give us a place to live, one of my friends took us in for five weeks. At this time, my issue with blackout was so bad, that the darkness made me scared to fall asleep. I would wake up in a panic, and have to calm myself down so that I could feel rested. I felt like I had gone from a forty something year old woman to a child afraid of the dark again. So, not only was it scary, but I was filled with shame.
New Experience with Blackout
What I noticed the situation is now, is that I have such a sensitivity to light, that I have to have it completely dark in order to fall asleep. If there is any light coming in from the blinds, I know I am going to have trouble falling asleep. If I don’t have the light blocking my face, even if I’ve had 8 hours of sleep, I will have extreme layers of bags under my eyes that will look like I haven’t slept in days. Also, my whole body will be in an extreme case of exhaustion.
Two years ago, I had to serve at the concession stand at church for basketball season. It was a pretty gloomy day in general, and since it was early evening when I got dropped off at the church, it was even darker. I stepped into the church’s kitchen to begin my serving shift, when everything started closing in on me.
My old techniques were immediate panic, but right then, I reminded myself of where I was, that it would eventually stop, and that engaging in conversation with others around me would help me to get grounded in the present moment. I would just have to ride it out.
When is the blackout aspect really bad? This is during the time where there is changing of the seasons, especially when it starts getting darker closer to winter.
I do a better job of handling it now, but in the beginning, it really rattled me to be honest. Feel free to drop a line in regards to your blackout aspect, and how you handle it.